I’d been excited to head back for a visit to England ever since Emma was born. It was the first time she would meet my family and friends and she could get a glimpse of where I grew up. We planned the journey and flights as close to her sleeping schedule as possible. Whether it was the timing, or the slight rocking of the turbulence we experienced over the pond, we were lucky she slept all the way to Blighty.
Something changed in Emma on this trip. Whether it was because she was surrounded by something different, or because she was forced to be sociable around so many different people over such a short amount of time, something sparked in her. She suddenly became so much more interactive and inquisitive. It seemed she started to control her expressions rather than merely reacting. She also had a mischievousness about her, too. It was subtle, but noticeable enough to send Kenny and me into hysterics.
Before the trip, it didn’t seem to bother her who was holding her. But now she watched our every move and grew anxious when she lost sight of us for even a moment. There was also bravery in her that I had never seen before, or perhaps had never given her the opportunity to show.
Getting out of the concrete walls in DC and experiencing so many different landscapes – the sea, the countryside, the castles – was obviously good for her. No matter how unimpressed she managed to look in every photograph.
And it was good for me, too. I could relax a little more, but I also realized how guarded I am with her. I know that’s how it should be, but seeing the joy in her eyes when she experienced new things made me realize that I was, perhaps, a little too over protective. It may have something to do with feeling a little on edge all the time in DC. With daily reports of gun and gang crime in the city, the right-wing nut jobs barking their protests on street corners, and the MAGA cap-wearing tourists who all seemed like they were itching for confrontation, I felt a suffocating feeling of constant vigilance, 24/7.
England’s centuries more history, idyllic rolling countryside, and sunny shingle beaches gave my weary mind a respite. And they gave Emma the room to grow into her own.